Emails leaked during last autumn’s hack of Sony Pictures revealed how a connected CEO of a major corporation tried to court favor with an Ivy League university. Michael Lynton was trying to improve the chances of his daughter getting into Brown.
Last week, Wikileaks announced that it had indexed the tens of thousands of leaked emails that Sony has worked vigorously to protect, even going as far as to threaten prosecution against anyone who attempted to access them.
Among the searchable index are emails in which Michael Lynton, Sony CEO and a Harvard University graduate, is shown in 2013 attempting to improve the Ivy League chances of his daughter, who had applied to both Harvard and Brown University.
Lynton contacted Brown seeking to establish what would become of a million-dollar donation set up as a scholarship for a full-need student at the school. The scholarship was to be in honor of a supposed friend of Lynton’s.
“I was pleased to receive your phone call and to learn that you are still interested in establishing a scholarship for a full-need student in memory of your friend Nathaniel Chapman ‘79,” a Brown representative wrote in response to Lynton’s inquiry. “This would be an enduring memorial to him and to your friendship.”
Chapman “was recruited by the CIA in 1980 to fight the Soviets,” Lynton wrote in an email to Tom Rothman, chairman of TriStar Productions, a Brown alum, and member of the school’s board of trustees.
Through insider dealings, Lynton was soon offered a personal meeting with Brown’s president during an official visit to the campus with his daughter.
Rothman later forwarded an email to Lynton from Brown’s president, Christina Paxson, in which she said “we will certainly look at [Lynton’s daughter’s] application very closely.” The daughter, Maise Lynton, was eventually accepted into the Brown University’s class of 2019.